Seoul is an ancient city, a capital for a kingdom called Joseon. Just like any other kingdom’s capital, they need to protect their border to ensure safety for their citizens. They built wall surrounding the capital, act as a permeable membrane to the people come in and out of the city. People enter through certain areas such as gates, then they will put soldiers to guard the borders from trespasser.
Most other capital did this too during their monarch era, just mention London, Batavia, Amsterdam, and Vatican for instance. They were more common to be called as fort, as some those act also as buildings, providing space for activity such as military barracks, compound, and medical activities.
Keeping the Heritage
Unfortunately for Seoul, most of their city walls were destroyed during Japanese occupation. The Japanese Imperial demolished these walls to open up their way to built their town plan. Their modern town plan indeed was a plan to eradicate Korean heritage and cultures, thus brought people to totally whole new foreign accustoms.
Years have been passing by, and Korean government has tried to awaken the heritage of Korea. The rebuilt of gates, palaces, and some parts of the walls are some initiatives taken to educate their younger generations about Korean heritage. Now, these tangible legacies have blended with the contemporary Seoul, forming a lively urban space beneath the layers of the city.
Visitor who would like to know more about the history could visit the museum. The museum entrance is free, and there are many interactive multimedia guide in this small museum. In this museum you could also see a LEGO model of the gates that depict how life’s going on in the past times. It’s worth a visit, especially if you need to take a break from your shopping in Dongdaemun!